Science

Around the Nation
4:48 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Yes, The Weather Is Polar. No, It's Not The Vortex

A bicycle messenger struggles through the snow in downtown Cleveland on Friday.
Mark Duncan AP

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 1:27 pm

Much of the country had to bundle up this week owing to some unusually cold weather. Even in the Deep South, residents struggled with temperatures in the low 20s.

With the big chill comes the revival of an ominous phrase: "the polar vortex."

The sinister-sounding label has been hard to escape on TV news. The Today Show warned of the vortex in its promo spots. Some cautioned that the phenomenon might already put the squeeze on holiday shopping.

Even The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the hype.

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Goats and Soda
4:29 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

How Bacteria In The Gut Help Fight Off Viruses

You've got a trillion friends in low places: Bacteria in the gut may protect against viruses by signaling their presence to your immune system.
Michael DeForge for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 6:56 pm

If it was a snake, it would have bitten us.

The secret to stopping a deadly stomach virus may be sitting right there in our guts, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science. Or more specifically, the treatment is in our microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that inconspicuously hang out in the GI tracts.

Immunologists at Georgia State University found that a tiny piece of gut bacteria can prevent and cure a rotavirus infection in mice.

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The Two-Way
3:45 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

WATCH: Orphaned Sea Otter Pup Has Snack, Playtime

Pup 681 enjoys a snack and some playtime at its new home at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
Shedd Aquarium YouTube screengrab

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 3:49 pm

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has a new resident — an orphaned southern sea otter that was rescued from the California coast north of Monterey.

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Science
3:28 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Controversy Over Scientist's Shirt Mars Celebration Of Comet Landing

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:34 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
10:13 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Climate Change To Make Lightning More Common, Study Says

Lightning strikes near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, Fla., in August. A new study says a rise in average global temperatures due to climate change will increase the frequency of lightning strikes.
Phil Sandlin AP

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 6:46 pm

The likelihood of getting struck by lightning has long been a metaphor for something with an exceedingly remote probability.

But that could be changing.

A new study in the journal Science says that temperature increases due to climate change are ushering in a new era that could mean by the end of the century lightning strikes will be about half again as common as they were at the start of this century.

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The Two-Way
8:59 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Comet Lander Deploys Drill, But Could Lose Power Tonight

Engineers at the European Space Agency fear that they won't be able to communicate with the Philae lander after Friday. Here, lander manager Stefan Ulamec (left, in foreground) watches as data confirming the comet landing arrived Wednesday.
European Space Agency

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 11:38 am

Philae, the lander currently on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, may not be able to perform its extended mission — scientists at the European Space Agency worry that the probe may have landed in a spot too shadowy for solar panels to recharge its batteries. The ESA says it may not be able to contact the craft after Friday night.

Worries over the robotic lander's power supply prompted engineers to take the risky step of activating its drill, an operation that had been shelved out of fears that it would sap the remaining charge.

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TED Radio Hour
8:45 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Why Do We Create Stereotypes?

"We're built with a strong bias to differentiate the world between us and them" — Paul Bloom
courtesy of TED

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Playing With Perceptions.

About Paul Bloom's TED Talk

Psychologist Paul Bloom explains why prejudice is natural, rational and even moral — the key is to understand why we depend on it, and recognize when it leads us astray.

About Paul Bloom

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The Salt
6:58 am
Fri November 14, 2014

With Drought The New Normal, Calif. Farmers Find They Have To Change

California sheep rancher Dan Macon had to sell almost half of his herd because the drought left him without enough feed.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 10:37 am

Ask Northern California sheep rancher Dan Macon what this drought is doing to his pocketbook and he'll break it down for you real quick.

"It's like if you woke up one morning and lost 40 percent of the equity in your house," he says. "Our primary investment in our ranch is in these sheep and we just sold 40 percent of our stock."

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Space
2:27 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Separates Fact From Fiction In 'Interstellar'

Matthew McConaughey plays an astronaut explorer in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.
Paramount Pictures Melinda Sue Gordon

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 8:42 am

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

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The Salt
5:11 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Why The 'Invasivores' Haven't Pounced On Bear Meat

Slow-cooked New York bear meat has been described as like beef stew, but with "a little stronger texture and a little gamier flavor."
David Sommerstein North Country Public Radio

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 11:43 am

The fight against nuisance critters is increasingly being fought at the dinner table. We've reported on so-called invasivores eating everything from Asian carp (battered and fried!) to wild pigs (Russian boar carpaccio, anyone?) as a means of reducing pesky populations.

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